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Archive for December, 2021

And I can’t quite compare myself with Tod and Buz, on Route 66.

I’m nervous and tentative about transmogrifying this blog from the open sea … or, at least, the open Bay, the hallowed if shallow Chesapeake Bay, my muse for the past decade … to the “open” road, the realm of the open-topped roadster, like my current Muse Among The Motors, to loosely quote my favorite 19/20th century poet, Rudyard Kipling.

Sailing, or ‘pottering about in boats’ (to quote ‘Wind In The Willows’ Kenneth Graeme), is a wonderful lot of fun, at best, depending on the wind, the waves, and the weather. Since I was retired, I could sail any day the weather was suitable, and anchor out overnight in a good number of sheltered anchorages within sailing distance. My 30-foot “Halcyon” was big enough for a few days out, and I’d bought her at first as a “stepping stone” to something large enough to sail across the oceans; but after an open-water yacht delivery that ended with the yacht sinking 100 miles south of Grand Cayman, my enthusiasm for that level of adventure was quite diminished. I decided that The Bay was big enough for me.

Then, in the beginning of 2019, I resolved to change my way of eating, to lose weight and get fit. The easiest way, for me, was to cut carbohydrates out of my diet and go with the Atkins plan — “for life,” as Dr. Atkins put it. By sailing-season, I’d lost some 25-plus pounds, and I felt a whole lot more fit and energetic — but it wasn’t easy to cook that way aboard Halcyon, where my meals were meat-and-rice “pilafs” and “curries” cooked in a ‘Shuttle Pot,’ a cookpot with a Thermos-bottle jacket that worked like a Crock Pot without electricity or external heat. That wouldn’t do, and I decided to limit my boating further; now it was day trips only. Still fun, but … you can see where this is going.

The next “break” was during my Thanksgiving holiday with my folks in Atlanta, when my brother-in-law David gave me a chance to drive his 2004 “C5” (fifth-generation) Corvette. Wow, that was thrilling! And this was a “thrill-ride” that I could park in front of my house, as opposed to driving an hour to The Bay! And the final straw was when I got home to find the bill for 2021’s dock-fee, $3000 — which amounted to $250 for every afternoon I got out sailing in 2019 and 2020. That was IT — I called the broker who had sold me Halcyon, and put it on the market for just under $20,000. And I started shopping for a Corvette to call my own.

Greg soon found a buyer, a young woman who was as thrilled with Halcyon as I’d been, when I bought it ten years before. She bid a couple of thousand below my asking price, but she was ready to take the boat “as is,” which would save me a lot of travel and trouble and elbow-grease! And when I met her and her boyfriend for the sea-trial, and saw how excited they were about the boat, I was overwhelmed with gratitude myself; I was passing Halcyon on to someone who would love it and sail it as it deserved!

And I drove home, that afternoon — my last visit to the marina, and my farewell to “the sailing life” — in my new Fiberglass Mistress, my 2001 Corvette “Pewter Bullet.”

Since I bought the Vette in January 2021, I have put 27,000 miles on the car. I’ve driven it twice across the country, and crossed through 29 states. I’ve driven the length of Historic Route 66; I’ve seen the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, and Meteor Crater; I’ve slept in a concrete tepee at the Wigwam Motel (both Wigwam Motels, in San Bernardino, CA and Holbrook, AZ), and driven across the spine of the Nation at Monarch Mountain, Colorado, where US-50 crosses the Continental Divide. I’ve “tamed” the Tail of the Dragon, in Tennessee (318 hairpin turns in 11 miles of 1930s-grade highway), as well as the “Arizona Sidewinder,” Route 66 between Oatman and Kingman, Arizona. I’ve even had it out on the track — the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park, in Bowling Green, KY, where I took an “Introduction to High Performance Driving” in October. (A little too thrilling! But I can truly say, “been there, done that, got the T-shirt.)

I will definitely say, though, I don’t need to push the limits to get the thrill. Just turning the key and waking up that big, rumbling V-8 is a pleasure. Getting it out on the road is a delight, whether for a road trip, a Cars & Coffee morning, or even a simple trip to the grocery store. It’s even better when it’s warm and dry enough to fold back that top — I couldn’t have survived the summer without high-SPF sunscreen! Best of all, though, is getting out on a nice, twisty country road and putting it through its paces.

Once we get through the short-days winter season, I’ve got some more cross-country plans in mind. I’ve taken the Lincoln Highway from its eastern terminus at Times Square, NYC, to a reasonable way-station at Breezewood, PA; maybe in May or June, I’m planning to follow the Old Road to San Francisco. I also want to get up into New England for the autumn leaves, and maybe out to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for the EAA AirVenture fly-in.

Last September, I met a fellow named Steve Stone, who was driving to the Lancaster, Ohio All Corvette Gathering in his 1963 Corvette convertible. He bought the car new, as a teenager, and hung onto it ever since. He’s driven it through all the Lower 48 States and all the Canadian provinces, and he has put over 600,000 miles on it. Frankly, I find him an inspiration — and even though I won’t have time to match his mileage, I plan to take it through the 19 states I haven’t visited in it, and to drive it until I’m too old and decrepit to drive any more.

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